Minnesota private eye Cork O’Connor’s 13th case is a family affair in all the worst ways.
Even though he’s no longer sheriff of Tamarack County, Cork is still a member of the Search and Rescue Team. So it’s only natural that he’d get a call when Evelyn Carter goes missing. The Buick belonging to the 70-ish wife of irascible retired judge Ralph Carter has been found abandoned with an empty gas tank miles from her home and with no clue of what happened to her—unless you’ve read the first chapter and already know that she was stabbed to death in the driveway of her own home. Even as Sheriff Marsha Dross and the rest of her team are digging in every snowbank in Tamarack County for Evelyn’s remains, there’s a second violent attack. While Cork’s teenage son Stephen is keeping company with Marlee Daychild, trying to figure out whether they’re “just talking” or progressing toward other intimacies, someone cuts off the head of Dexter, the dog belonging to Marlee’s uncle, RayJay Wakemup, who’s about to be released from prison. (The place where Dexter’s head finally turns up is one of the few surprises here.) Ignoring the bloody recent history of Tamarack County (Trickster’s Point, 2012, etc.), Cork and company assume that the two incidents are related. They trace them back to the conviction 20 years ago of Cecil LaPointe for the murder of party-girl coed Karyn Bowen, a resolution that depended on Judge Carter’s suppression of RayJay’s exculpatory evidence. But this ancient case is much less urgent than the questions of whether Cork’s daughter Annie will take her vows as a Sister of Notre Dame de Namur or yield to the embraces of teacher Skye Edwards, or what will happen between Stephen and Marlee or between Cork and Marlee’s mother.
Lacking mystery and low on suspense, this installment reads more like a family in extremis soap opera larded with Native American lore. Wait till next year.